Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of slavery in the Old South, roughly between 1830 and 1860. The chapter begins by exploring the economic dominance of cotton in the South and how the northern and international textile industry depended upon the raw material. As the North industrialized, the South’s economy rested overwhelmingly upon the cash crop of cotton.

The different classes in the South are thoroughly discussed, explaining that although most white southerners did not own slaves, slavery was largely supported by the "plain folk." The various proslavery arguments are explained, illustrating how the definition of freedom was bent to justify the "peculiar institution." Southerner and proslavery advocate John C. Calhoun is featured in Voices of Freedom, arguing that slavery formed the foundation "on which to rear free and stable political institutions." Masters had a variety of tools from which to pick to maintain order. Among them, physical violence was the most dramatic, but the threat of sale was the most effective.

Slave society and culture is compared and contrasted to the society and culture of the southern free blacks. Slave culture demonstrated that slaves were able to maintain a semi-independence and self-respect via family life, folklore, and religion. Slave culture also cultivated a strong will for freedom. The chapter concludes with a look at various forms of slave resistance, from silent sabotage to full-scale rebellions.

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